The third and final week of the preseason slate continued on Friday, as the NFL hosted four matchups in primetime.
The Buffalo Bills hosted the Carolina Panthers, while the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Seattle Seahawks. Also, the New Orleans Saints hosted the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Las Vegas Raiders hosted the New England Patriots.
As with all preseason games, various players boosted and plummeted their respective stocks during Friday’s exhibition matchups.
Below are the movers and shakers from the final Friday of the preseason:
Seahawks vs. Cowboys: DeeJay Dallas rises while Drew Lock falters
The Cowboys defeated the Seahawks, 27-26, at AT&T Stadium.
Stock Up: Seahawks RB DeeJay Dallas
DeeJay Dallas is part of the Seahawks’ established running back rotation. With Kenneth Walker III sidelined with an injury, Dallas could in line for a bigger role to start the season. While the Seahawks’ offense had its struggles in the air, Dallas did a really nice job of pacing the attack on the ground. He finished with 13 carries for 75 yards and a TD. He also caught 2 passes for 9 yards.
Stock Down: Seahawks QB Drew Lock
Drew Lock missed the previous preseason game against the Chicago Bears with COVID-19. Against the Cowboys, he did little to make up for that missed time. Smith started the game before giving way to Lock, who threw three interceptions on the night. While he was able to connect with Penny Hart on an impressive TD completion, the third-year QB really struggled in his return. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 171 yards, a touchdown, and 3 interceptions. It feels like Smith has won this battle by default.
UPDATE: Following the game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll named Smith the Seahawks’ Week 1 starter. “He’s earned it,” Carroll said. “He won the job.”
Stock Up: Cowboys S Israel Mukuamu
The second-year safety made a phenomenal play in the first quarter of the preseason finale. He jumped a route by wideout D’Wayne Eskridge and picked off a pass from Lock. The pick was Mukuamu’s second of the preseason and put him in position for a legitimate role on defense this season. The former sixth-round pick made the type of splash play that can propel a player into a surge up the depth chart.
Stock Down: Cowboys OT Josh Ball
The second-year lineman didn’t do much to make the Cowboys feel better about Tyron Smith’s months-long recovery timeline. Ball started at left tackle in place of Smith and looked predictably overmatched. He allowed a sack to Seahawks pass rusher Joshua Onujiogu after he was immediately beat on an inside move in the first quarter. He was also whistled for an illegal man downfield penalty on the opening drive. The Cowboys need to trade for a proven upgrade at the position.
Stock Up: Seahawks CB Mike Jackson Sr.
Jackson did a nice job against his former team in coverage. Jackson, a former fifth-round pick, has been an NFL nomad throughout his short career. However, he definitely impressed on Friday with a pair of pass breakups, preventing some big plays, including a potential jump-ball TD. Jackson is on the roster bubble, but his performance in the finale could help him stick around Seattle.
Stock Up: Cowboys DE Sam Williams
The second-round pick made two big stops in the first half. He produced a sack on Geno Smith early in the game and then made an impressive tackle at the line of scrimmage on a Travis Homer run. Williams did a really good job of setting the edge against the Seahawks and created consistent pressure. He finished with five tackles (two for loss) and a sack. He had a couple of penalties but more than made up for them with his effort.
Bills vs. Panthers: Baker Mayfield’s strong showing after being named starting QB for Week 1
The Panthers defeated the Bills, 21-0, at Bank of America Stadium.
Stock Up: Panthers QB Baker Mayfield
While he wasn’t perfect, Baker Mayfield couldn’t have asked for a better dress rehearsal. The Panthers’ newly minted starting QB led two touchdown-scoring drives following a weather delay against the Bills. Mayfield made some impressive throws while completing 9 of 15 tosses for 89 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers clearly made the right decision to pick Mayfield over Sam Darnold, who left the game on a cart with an apparent left ankle injury in the second quarter.
Stock Up: Bills S Damar Hamlin
During the preseason, roster-bubble players can really separate themselves by standing out on special teams. Damar Hamlin is part of a packed secondary in Buffalo, so his role will mostly revolve around special teams, barring a major injury. Against the Panthers, Hamlin showed out with a pair of stops on kickoff and punt coverage. He was also heavily involved on defense in the finale.
Stock Down: Panthers RB Chuba Hubbard
With Christian McCaffrey on the sideline, Chubba Hubbard drew plenty of action alongside D’Onta Foreman. Unfortunately for Hubbard, Foreman clearly outplayed him. Hubbard ran for just 4 yards on as many carries. He also dropped a pair of targets from Mayfield early in the game. Meanwhile, Foreman made an excellent adjustment on a poor throw from Mayfield in the flat, and he was able to score a touchdown on the play. Foreman has likely leaped Hubbard for the No. 2 RB gig.
Stock Up: Bills WR Neil Pau’u
Neil Pau’u, a 26-year-old undrafted rookie, had a nice showing in the second half against Carolina. With the Bills struggling to create anything on offense, Pau’u made a handful of plays late in the game. While Pau’u is more likely to land on the practice squad than the active roster, he was able to put some solid catches on tape. He caught 4 passes for 46 yards against the Panthers.
Stock Up: Panthers WR Shi Smith
With Robbie Anderson taking the night off, Smith got plenty of time to shine with the starters. Smith answered the call immediately, catching three passes during the first three series and concluding his evening with three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. Smith should be considered the Panthers’ third wideout heading into the season, behind Anderson and top target D.J. Moore.
Stock Down: Bills QB Case Keenum
Starting in place of star QB Josh Allen, Case Keenum had a rough go against the Panthers’ starters. Billed as one of the better backup QBs in the league, Keenum didn’t look the part in Charlotte, tossing an early interception and completing just 8 of 13 passes for 46 yards and the aforementioned pick. His competition, fellow veteran Matt Barkley, filled in at punter for Buffalo. Barkley went on to complete 9 of 13 passes for 100 yards, along with his special teams contributions.
Chargers vs. Saints: Jameis Winston strong in his preseason debut
The Saints defeated the Chargers, 27-10, at Caesars Superdome.
Stock Up: Saints QB Jameis Winston
The Saints’ QB1 had been relatively limited throughout the summer, only returning to team drills this week. However, he showed little rust on Friday, as he immediately led the Saints on an impressive touchdown drive to kick off the preseason finale against the Chargers. Winston completed all four of his passes for 59 yards, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Mark Ingram. Winston’s night was over after the opening series.
Stock Up: Chargers RB Joshua Kelley
The Chargers have an interesting running back rotation. For Joshua Kelley, this game was an opportunity to build momentum for playing time. Kelley answered the call with a solid showing against the Saints, producing 40 rushing yards on six carries. He also caught a pass for a yard. Kelley will clearly be a contributor in the rotation this season.
Stock Down: Chargers TE Hunter Kampmoyer
The second-year tight end fumbled the ball following a third-down conversion catch in the third quarter. Hunter Kampmoyer, who is known more for his special teams work, is probably on the outside looking in with the 53-man roster. Blunders in the preseason finale can be damning, as those moments happen in the last true audition of the summer.
Stock Up: Saints WR Marquez Callaway
The Saints have several playmakers at wideout, but Callaway seems to be an annual preseason star. Callaway was targeted early and often by Winston and backup QB Andy Dalton, making big plays throughout the first half. He caught all four of his targets for 65 yards against the Chargers.
Stock Up: Chargers LB Cole Christiansen
Cole Christiansen, like most players on this list, is competing for a depth spot. He made a flash play on Friday by sacking Saints backup QB Ian Book in the third quarter. Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in the defensive shuffle of a preseason game, but Christiansen producing a big play should help him with roster discussions in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
Patriots vs. Raiders: Mac Jones throws ugly pick in final preseason game
The Raiders defeated the Patriots, 23-6, at Allegiant Stadium.
Stock Up: Raiders DE Tashawn Bower
Tashawn Bower, a well-traveled pass rusher, had a really strong showing against the Patriots. He produced a pair of sacks and a forced fumble with the second-string defense. Bower is fighting for playing time behind the likes of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Bower did everything he could to earn snaps in the preseason finale.
Stock Up: Patriots DT Daniel Ekuale
Daniel Ekuale, like Bower, is well-traveled and searching for playing time. Against the Raiders, Ekuale made the most of his snaps, producing a sack during the second quarter. While Ekuale isn’t going to get a ton of playing time this season, he showed he can be a worthy contributor during his work on Friday.
Stock Down: Raiders RB Austin Walter
This might be nitpicking, but Walter didn’t have a great evening. He fumbled during the second half and was lucky the ball fell out of bounds. He ran six times for 20 yards and caught a pair of passes for 7 yards. Walter wasn’t awful, but that’s not the type of performance that pushes a player onto the roster after a summer on the bubble.
Stock Up: Patriots DE Anfernee Jennings
The Patriots have several competitions for roster spots this summer. Jennings, a 2020 third-round pick, underdelivered during the first two seasons. Against the Raiders, he was able to make a splash play with a sack on QB Chase Garbers. Jennings, like Ekuale, got to make a positive impression on his coaches ahead of the cutdown deadline.
Stock Up: Raiders LB Luke Masterson
The undrafted rookie is fighting for a roster spot. On Friday, he made a big play to possibly push himself onto the 53-man roster. Playing against the Patriots’ starting offense, Masterson picked off a pass from QB Mac Jones that was intended for wideout Kendrick Bourne. Masterson is among a group of linebackers who are trying to make the most of working with a new regime. That play — along with his two special teams tackles in the game — could make the difference between him joining the main roster or the practice squad.
Stock Down: Patriots QB Mac Jones
It’s been a rough summer for the Patriots’ coordinator-less offense. Jones has kind of ebbed and flowed as a result of the uncertainty, and he didn’t look his best in Friday’s dress rehearsal, tossing the aforementioned pick straight to Masterson. Jones shouldn’t be a concern for the Patriots, but the preseason finale didn’t off up a super encouraging performance. Jones completed 9 of 13 passes for 71 yards and an interception.